Monday, September 08, 2008

Ethics Issuing from Silence IV

When silence is the wellspring, day-to-day living evolves toward simplicity and unobtrusiveness. To inhabit silence naturally leads to embracing silence in the exterior as well as interior worlds. Changes to the way you live may take place subtly and gradually, almost without your realizing it.

One sign that this growth is taking place is the desire to get rid of "stuff" and refusing to acquire more. It is something of a shock the first time you walk into a big store and realize that not only is there nothing you want to buy but that most of what is on offer looks shabby and sad (not to mention a waste of natural resources). It isn't a matter of like or dislike but rather of indifference and compassion.

Another indication is a growing disinclination to engage in activities that will leave you feeling jangled, that introduce a lot of static. Even though you know that you are still living from the well of silence underneath all the interference, there is an increasing tendency to avoid music, people, situations that are "exciting," or to seek excitement, or to eat or drink things that increase cravings (like sugar, or alcohol, which becomes sugar), which become a nuisance. There is a profound joy in sharing a glass of wine with friends or family, or as an enhancement to carefully prepared food, but casual drinking falls by the wayside, and activities such as "schmoozing" become repellent.

You also begin to realize that there are images, sounds and other sensory memories that are disturbing, that you wish you had never seen or heard, and you begin to take stock of what you read and what you watch. Your tolerance for watching or reading about incidents of violence, suspense, betrayal and humiliation drops to zero.

Personal soap operas fall by the wayside and you look for real solutions, or the patience to live with a situation until it changes, or with your own faults, which probably won't. The work of silence is a refuge but not an escape.

You may find to your surprise that your taste in music, art and other cultural activities is changing. You find that a little goes a very long way, that the nuances resonate more widely and in greater depth than you previously had any idea; you keep finding new layers of richness. You develop a taste for simply being still, wherever you are, but especially in the presence of great beauty, especially natural beauty.

You seek wisdom. Slogans, half-truth, political insincerity, being told what someone thinks you want to hear (he or she is often trained to manipulate instead of relate) as opposed of being told the truth becomes so naked that you wonder why anyone falls for these ploys—until you look at the faces around you and see the expressions of lostness, bewilderment and pain.

In short, there is good news and bad news. The "bad" news is that you will never again feel at home in the culture around you. The good news is that you now lead a life whose riches were once unimaginable. There is no language to describe it. Far from being a selfish exercise, a life lived from the wellspring of silence influences other lives—but without our being aware of this fact. Silence itself has resonances, but the way you have come to be in the world quietly opens the possibility of transfiguration to everyone around you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Maggie,

Reading back through this archive I have most "noticed" this post.

These signs and portents you note are now lived. Imperfectly present. As their becoming so seemingly was such a no step to one step then two steps back process there was a shock of surprise (and some joy) found in recognizing your sketch as a fair likeness. Who'da thunk it!

Given the attentiveness to this reciprocal matter of silence as working on perhaps some ordinariness now should not have been unexpected ...

The old saw says: a dishwasher washes each dish. :)


5:24 pm, March 20, 2014  

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